Vigilantes attend Airlift/Tanker Symposium

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson
  • 120th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office
Eleven 120th Airlift Wing members attended the 47th annual Airlift/Tanker Association Symposium held in Orlando, Fla., October 28-November 1.

According to a story published on the Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System, more than 1500 personnel representing bases assigned to the Air Mobility Command participated in the general sessions and professional development meetings.

This was the first symposium 120 AW personnel have attended as the wing is undergoing an aircraft mission change to the C-130 Hercules airlift mission. 

"It gets all of the tanker and airlift units together to highlight their accomplishments for the year," said 120 AW Public Affairs Officer Capt. Maureen Maphies. "It's a great way for people to interact and for us to see how amazing our new mission is."

Breakout sessions were held during the symposium to provide specialized and targeted information to officers, enlisted personnel and command chiefs. 
Maphies was one of three Air National Guard officers selected to attend the High Flight breakout session that focused on the importance of the airlift and tanker missions to the United States military.

"It gave me a broader picture of what our mission is," Maphies said. "I picked up a lot of information on how important airlift is in not only the federal missions, but also state missions and humanitarian missions-just a broader picture of what we bring to the fight."

120 AW Command Chief Master Sgt. Steve Lynch participated in the command chief conclave held during the symposium. He valued the face-to-face networking and the lasting relationships that were built during the event.

"The networking that you get and the things you learn was a real insight to me," said Lynch. "To sit and talk with your counterparts-it's amazing what can come out of that. The connections you make and the information you receive could definitely have a direct impact on where we go in the future."

120th Logistics Readiness Squadron Staff Sgt. Robert Hopp was one of three ANG enlisted members selected to attend the Phoenix Stripe breakout session.                                    

A prior-service member of the United States Marine Corps, he said it opened his eyes to the different leadership styles used in the Air Force. He also was able to develop valuable networking contacts from active-duty counterparts working in air transportation career specialties serving throughout the nation.   
"I met a lot of people in the Phoenix Stripe class that I was in," Hopp said. "There were a lot of active duty personnel from small air terminals all over the country that had a lot more experience than me. They did a plethora of different jobs so I could ask about that. I met a lot of contacts that broadened my horizon."

The symposium's program listed Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force, James Cody and the Director of the Air National Guard, Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clark III as having addressed the Airmen during the event.

Lynch said closing remarks to the Airmen were provided by the Commander of Air Mobility Command, Gen. Carlton Everhart. He shared the story of how a combat medic, Staff Sgt. Taylor Savage, was injured by an improvised explosive device during her deployment to Afghanistan in 2013.

She was evacuated back to the United States by Air Mobility Command aircraft and air transportation personnel.

Lynch said during the closing remarks, Savage was brought to the stage and reunited with the two combat medics who had provided initial lifesaving medical care to her.

"They were the first ones to get to her and render aid," Lynch said. "To her surprise, he brought them up and it was the first time she had seen them. And so there wasn't a dry eye in the place. They have a human story to demonstrate this is who we are and this is what we do and what we do is a dangerous business, and yet we take care of each other."

"General Everhart was an outstanding motivational speaker," said 120th Operations Support Squadron Tech. Sgt. Christopher McComas. "He summarized what Air Mobility Command was and put a face to it. They were able to get her (Savage) airlifted out of there and back to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in a matter of 48 hours."